Our confession last Sunday

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I went to workshop on genocide at Christ the King church last Saturday.  It was excellent.  We first learned about the genocide in Cambodia, then in Rwanda.  Carl Wilkins, a relief worker in Rwanda for a number of years before the civil war broke out and the only American to stay during the genocide, was at the workshop and told his personal story.  

Two Tutsi people were living with Carl and his family and Carl knew these Tutsi people would be killed when they left.  His wife and children left for safety, but Carl stayed.  He protected his Tutsi friends and also prevented the killing of children in an orphanage. 
 
His talk was disjointed, rambling, loopy, but intelligent and he finally got his points across.  Sometimes he cried and he said he does that.  Fifteen years have passed and I think he’s still suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. 

The nations of the world knew that genocide was happening, yet not one nation attempted to stop it.  The UN sent troops but they were ordered to not use force, not even to protect Rwandans from mass slaughter.  Madeline Albright tried to get the interest of President Bill Clinton, but was unable.  The U.S. had “no interests” in Rwanda.  We did nothing.  Neither did Belgium, the past colonizer of Rwanda nor France, a protectorate of Rwanda.

I went to church Sunday heavy with this information and needful of something, I didn’t know what.  But I found it in our confession:

Leader:       God of history and Creator of all peoples, we stand before you as among those

accountable for the well-being of your creation.

Congregation:      We have failed you – as individuals, as a church, as a nation. We have easily spoken a commitment our lives do not confirm. We have lightly proclaimed a gospel our common life has denied. We have stood firmly against sins we were never tempted to commit.

L:      When we kept silent before popular evil,

C:      we called ourselves realistic.

L:       When we endorsed what everyone favored,

C:      we called ourselves good.

L:       When we forsook Christ’s cause of well-being for all your children,

C:      we called ourselves merely human.

L:       Blessed with riches,

C:      we have let the walls of gold entomb us.

L:       Honored with prophets and critics,

C:     we have abandoned their dreams and tamed their cries for justice,

L:      Commanded to serve,

C:      we have expected service.

L:       Pardoned in order to pardon,

C:      we have forgiven only ourselves.

L:       Received in order to give,

C:      we have given in order to receive.

L:       Blessed in order to bless,

C:     we have blessed in order to get.

L:       Saved by your grace,

C:     we thought we had it coming.

All:    Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.

L:       Gracious God, make us all bold to ask for the saving grace of your forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All:    Amen.

 

Pastor Wayne granted us absolution. 

 

I am not one to assign guilt and shame, but after spending a day contemplating two genocides in the recent past and knowing that one continues in Darfur, I needed that confession and the absolution.  I do not have a personal hand in these horrors but I have responsibilities.  We all do.  We are one people.  Now, what will we do?
Reva Rasmussen, Deacon
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